Kate Matos '08 Combines Engineering and Law in Health Care Reform




   Story by Schaefer School of Engineering & Science

January 5, 2011

Kate Matos '08 learned about the medical industry firsthand as a Biomedical Engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology. This rigorous program put Kate and other students in the proverbial driver's seat to create real devices that solve unmet needs in the medical community.

Now in her last year at Seton Hall Law School, and currently an alumni member of the Stevens Board of Trustees, Kate is preparing to transition from co-inventor to counselor in the hot field of health law. She has accepted a position in Washington, D.C. at the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services. Upon graduation, she will become directly involved in administering and enforcing new laws resulting from recent health care reforms.

Once in Washington, Kate will be representing the federal government in fraud and abuse matters, recovering federal health care dollars and ensuring compliance with federal health regulations.. These instances commonly arise whenever a grievance is brought against a medical group receiving federal funding. Kate will help organizations usher in compliance with all laws from the viewpoint of the federal government.

"Recent changes in health care make it an exciting time to be in the field," Kate reports. "There is a lot of uncertainty, but also new development. Many attorneys are needed in the government and also as consultants to companies trying to stay on the cutting edge of regulations."

Kate sees this as an opportunity to capitalize on her unique background and become an expert in a young field. As a first step in her professional career, it is a fantastic achievement. With this federal experience on top of her engineering training, Kate promises to add value to a legal firm's roster and be able to make an immediate impact.

Like many students, Kate Matos (née Freed) entered college undecided about her major. Soon, however, she became drawn to the Biomedical Engineering program. Although one of the biggest lures of the degree is a Top 15 starting salary for recent grads, Kate found the potential for career satisfaction to be the biggest attraction.

"It's true that all engineering fields involve projects relevant to daily life," Kate says. "But biomedical engineering, which is dedicated to developing life-saving products, seemed the most gratifying. To me, it is a field that truly has a moral purpose."

Kate became committed to pursuing health law while pursuing her coursework, but her biggest influence at Stevens came from Industry Professor Vikki Hazelwood.

"She pushed us above and beyond to prepare us to successfully face challenges in the complicated medical device industry," Kate says.

What that preparation entailed was definitely outside the box for an engineer. Dr. Hazelwood's curriculum covered the business of medicine, federal regulatory forces, and presentation skills in addition to the science and engineering know-how required to develop a novel device. As part of her capstone biomedical engineering project, she had to create a business proposal incorporating strategic consideration of patent issues, FDA approval, and institutional review board monitoring.

"Dr. Hazelwood exposed us to all these issues as well as the bio-ethics involved in bringing a product to market. We learned that it is not just about having a brilliant technology, but also a sound business plan and a command of legal considerations relevant to the medical industry.

"It was hard, but those skills have made me more prepared for and competitive in law school."

Kate entered Seton Hall Law School with this rigorous and holistic training in hand, and developed an original paper on health care law in her first semester as a law student. When it came time to make her first large presentation to the students and faculty, her engineering education proved critical to her development as a confident law school student.

"Dr. Hazelwood had taught us that, even if something is overwhelming, that does not mean you don't have the skills to succeed," Kate recalls. "I recognize that everything I did as an engineer prepared me to succeed in law school."

She will also be using those skills to succeed in life after graduation: making a difference in the lives of individuals, guiding companies through complicated legal matters, and steering America through a transformative era in health care. Opportunities like these and more are made possible by a degree in engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation UniversityTM.


© Stevens Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.